Cancer Heterogeneity Data Challenge

from December 10, 2018 to December 14, 2018

The Cancer Heterogeneity data challenge is part of a program dedicated to innovation in education. The aim of this program is to provide (i) analytical frameworks to bridge the gap between large dataset and personalized medicine in disease treatments and (ii) innovative pedagogical methods to train students and health professionals to big data analysis in health science.

Scientific challenge

Since the recent development of high-throughput sequencing technologies, access to massive multi-omic data (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, epigenomics, metabolomics ...) has revolutionized modern medicine. This transformation has been accompanied by numerous methodological problems related to the nature of biological data: lack of quality reference data, integration of patient history (age, gender, etc.), integration of missing data, management of data. Health professionals and students dramatically need analytical skills to extract information from biological data.

Integrating a large amount of data from different sources and using this knowledge to better characterize specificities of each individual will provide significant opportunities to improve disease diagnosis and to adapt accordingly patients’ treatment and care. Successful treatment of cancer is still a challenge and this is partly due to a wide heterogeneity of cancer composition across patient population.

The challenge will be dedicated to the characterization of intra-tumour heterogeneity by implementing deconvolution or source separation methods. The aim will be to exploit averaged DNA methylation in the context of full patient history, in order to properly characterize tumour cell heterogeneity (How many cell types? In which proportion?). Participants will work in groups and will be asked to analyse simulated datasets.


Pedagogic approaches

Participant will be asked to brainstorm on innovative pedagogy, challenge diffusion and participants evaluation.

Who can attend?

Undergrads, PhD, postdoc, researchers, professors, clinicians and employees from the private sector are welcome.
We look for interdisciplinary expertise in biology, computer science, statistics, bioinformatics and medical sciences.
We expect that participants are familiar with the R software (or equivalent) and with basic statistical notions.

Participants should bring their personal laptops.


Monday December 10
•    Arrival of the participants
•    19h30-20h30 Dinner
•   20h30-21h30 Introduction about cancer heterogeneity and presentation of the Data Challenge
Tuesday December 11
•    09:30 to 09:45 : Introduction to statistical methods for signal treatment
•    09:45 to 10:00 : Introduction to omics data in biomedical research
•  10:00 to 10:15 : Introduction to 3 R packages for deconvolution of methylation data: RefFreeDec, MeDeCom and Edec
•    10:15 to 10:30 : Break
•    10:30 to 12:30 : Challenge #1
•    12:30 to 14:00 : Lunch
•    14:00 to 16:30 : Challenge #1
•    16:30 to 17:00 : Break
•    17:00 to 18:30 : Challenge #1
•    18:30 to 20:00 : Poster session / Wine & Cheese
•    20:00 to 21:30 : Dinner
Wednesday December 12
•    09:00 to 10:00 : Debriefing on challenge #1
•    10:00 to 10:30 : Break
•    10:30 to 12:30 : Challenge #2
•    12:30 to 14:00 : Lunch
•    14:00 to 16:30 : Free time in the montain
•    16:30 to 20:00 : Challenge #2
•    20:00 to 21:30 : Dinner (Grill-stone)
Thursday December 13
•    09:00 to 10:00 : Challenge #2
•    10:00 to 10:30 : Break
•    10:30 to 12:30 : Debriefing on challenge #2
•    12:30 to 14:00 : Lunch
•    14:00 to 14:15 : Introduction to innovative pedagogy
•    14:15 to 14:30 : Introduction to the digital platform codalab
•    14:30 to 16:00 : Brainstorming #1 : how to evaluate participants ?
•    16:00 to 16:30 : Break
•    16:30 to 18:00 : Brainstorming #2 : how to evaluate the pedagogical methods ?
•    20:00 to 21:30 : Gala Dinner and cocktail party
Friday December 14
•    09:00 to 10:00 : Debriefing on brainstorming #1 and #2
•    10:00 to 10:30 : Break
•   10:30 to 12:00 : Challenge diffusion: how to organize your own health data challenge at home!
•    12:00 to 13:30 : Lunch

Where and when

The challenge will take place during 5 days (December 10-14th, 2018) in Aussois, Vanoise. It will end at 12pm on December 14th. If you want to leave Aussois after December 14th, you should spend the last night in another hotel nearby (e.g. hotel des mottets).

The challenge will take place in Aussois, a charming small village in the Vanoise National Park (French Alps). The remote setting, along with the challenging program, were chosen to promote and enhance interactions between participants.

How to come


The most convenient way to come to Aussois is to arrive by train at the railway station in Modane. Then, a bus shuttle will pick you up to go to the conference center.
You can check timetables on the SNCF website.


The closest airport is at Lyon Saint Exupery but you might also arrive in Paris. Then you should take the train from the airport. Check on the website of the SNCF for timetables and reservation.


There is a freeway to Modane, which is located at 15-20 minutes of the conference center in Aussois.
The tourist office provides additional information...

Bus shuttle between the railway station in Modane and the conference center (~15 minutes by bus).
The conference will take place at the centre Paul Langevin in Aussois. If coming by train, a shuttle will pick you up at the station on Monday afternoon and bring you back to the station on Friday morning.


Registration fees include attendance to the courses, food, bus from the station, housing, conference banquet, and the social event on Wednesday. The challenge is limited to 50 participants.
Please register here:


•    Early birds (before September 17th) :  Students* 150 € / Faculty-Postdoc 250 €
•    Normal (before October 17th) : Students* 250 € / Faculty-Postdoc 450 €
•    A supplement of 50 euros will be charged if you prefer to stay in a single room rather than in a double room
* Housing rates can be offered to students upon motivations.

How to pay:

•    By cash or credit card once you arrive at the conference center
•    By bon de commande

Cancellation fees:

•    If you cancel before November, 10: no fees.
•    If you cancel between November, 10 and December, 3: 79 €
•    If you cancel between December, 4 and December, 6: 159 €
•    If you cancel after December, 7: all registration fees

Published on July 16, 2018

Practical informations